Australia's Migration Act 1958 requires that all non-Australians who are unlawfully in mainland Australia must be detained and that unless they are granted permission to remain in Australia, they must be removed as soon as practical. Since 1994 government policy requires that all such people be detained in detention centres.
The Australian Government maintains a number of categories of detention facilities:
- Immigration Detention Centres in Melbourne, Perth and Sydney which cater mostly for unauthorised air arrivals, those who have overstayed their visas (overstayers) or those found to be in breach of their visa conditions.
- An Immigration Detention Facility at Baxter in South Australia catering mostly for unauthorised boat arrivals.
- Immigration and Reception Processing Centres catering mostly for unauthorised boat arrivals.
- Residential Housing Projects catering for eligible women and children detainees.
- Contingency detention facilities.
What makes it hot?
Arguments against these detention facilities centre on a number of issues:
- Their location in often isolated and harsh climatic environments.
- The detention of children.
- The detention of asylum seekers, sometimes for years, who are then found to be genuine refugees.
- The physical and emotional damage caused to people detained in the facilities for long periods of time.
Community based alternatives to mandatory detention for asylum seekers can be found internationally and within the current Australian parole system. These options would enable asylum seekers' claims to be assessed for legitimacy. They are also significantly less expensive and more humane.
25 June 2002